“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” (James 1:26)
I have not drunk alcohol for a number of years now, but there was a time I could drink many under the table. I no longer do drugs, though there was from my youth for many decades rarely a day I would not. Now that I have stopped these things, does that make me a Christian?
Vulgar language is no longer a daily part of my vernacular, but when I become frustrated to a point or even angry, curse words still escape from my lips. Because of this, does our opening verse mean that I am not saved?
How perfect do we need to be, and in whose eyes is our life most looked upon for that “condition of salvation?”
“Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.” (Matt. 26:74) Do you suppose after the tongues of fire fell upon those present that day that Peter never said another curse word for as long as he lived?
God looks on the heart. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2nd Tim. 2:19) But man cannot, and while we cannot simply look at a person and tell if they are saved, though many surely do try to affect that in the presence of others, we can tell, if we spend enough time with a person, if they are saved or not by their words and actions.
So then, in your mind, what precludes a person from being saved, what righteous judgments do you impart within yourself to determine if an individual is truly a brother or sister in Christ, or if they are one of those who only profess Him with their lips? If you know that I still smoked cigarettes, and while not enjoying the effects they have on my body, yet finding pleasure in smoking them, would you say that there is no way that I could honestly be saved, or perhaps that I have just not yet been convicted in that area? What if I enjoyed a lot of deep fat fried food, or perhaps several cans of soda pop, or salt on nearly everything? Where does the perfection of a Christian formulate in your mind, what makes the “perfect Christian?”
“Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” (1st Cor. 8:13)
My friends, no matter how hard you try, no matter how perfect, even holy that you attempt to portray yourselves to others, somebody somewhere is going to be offended by you, and judge you incorrectly, it will happen. Most of these like to believe that when the Lord said, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom,” (Matt. 26:29) that He was talking about grape juice, that the many gallons of wine He made for the wedding feast had no alcoholic content whatsoever. They will see fault in something you do, and if they cannot, they will not stop searching for something to accuse you of until they do.
Can the mind that serves Christ stumble? Or shall we always just blame it on the flesh? What is perfect? Will the glorified body be perfect, will it never know frustration or righteous anger? Will it still desire deep fat fried chicken with mashed potatoes smothered in butter? Can I enjoy a cigarette in heaven?
Keep looking for that perfect Christian and you will spend your life forever searching. Try to be one and you will find yourself a failure in this life. Best to keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, let Him be the model for your life.